Time for an ethics reboot in state government

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Hello everyone,

As noted in a story last week, State Sen. Trey Paradee struck back against coverage of family ties and the proposed Kent County lodging tax that if enacted would have gone directly to DE Turf.

Paradee, clearly upset that the News Journal had tied his brother and sister to the legislation, asked Kent County Levy Court to drop consideration of an ordinance that would have directed lodging tax proceeds to the nonprofit complex of athletic fields.

Paradee’s brother is a board member of DE Turf and is involved in a proposed development near DE Turf. His sister is a member of the governor’s legal staff, which vets legislation prior to signing or veto.

The county complied and Paradee says he will introduce legislation next year that allows Kent County to levy the room tax, but does not single out DE Turf as the sole recipient of the money.

Paradee’s anger is understandable but does not minimize the many potential conflicts that arise in a small state. The result is a lack of trust in government on even the most mundane matters.

The sheer size of state government in relation to other employers in the state makes real and imagined conflicts inevitable. For example, the difficult issue of state employee health care costs and pensions directly affects many legislators as well as friends and family.

It is past time for government officials to closely consider potential conflicts, even on minor issues, before casting their vote.

The Delaware Coalition for Open Government supportsthe use of an inspector general and greater power for the Public Integrity Commission in monitoring ethical issues, Delaware Public Media reported.

It is an idea worth revisiting.

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